[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose more than 1 per cent on Monday, climbing for a third consecutive session, as the Bank of Japan's decision to cut a benchmark interest rate below zero buoyed market sentiment.
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 1.2 per cent, or 62 points to 5,067.5 by 0245 GMT, which followed an advance of 0.6 per cent on Friday.
The index has been on an upward trend since hitting a more than a two-year trough of 4,803.9 on Jan. 18. "The market is playing catch-up to what we saw on Friday on Wall Street as the market digested the decision of the Bank of Japan to cut interest rates, and what that means for global growth," said Evan Lucas, market analyst at IG.
Financials led the way, firming nearly 0.5 per cent across the sector. Shares in ANZ Banking Group and Suncorp Group both gained more than 2 per cent, while National Australia Bank rose nearly 1.5 per cent.
Australia health stocks rallied strongly, led by Japara Healthcare Ltd, which rose more than 5 per cent.
Analysts said market direction was now likely to be determined by the Reserve Bank of Australia's interest rate decision on Tuesday and corporate earnings, beginning next week.
Wall Street surged over 2 per cent on Friday.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3 per cent or 20 points to 6,189.92 on Monday.
Among the biggest gainers was New Zealand Refining, which climbed 1.6 per cent on an improvement in oil prices.
Among the biggest losers was Ryman Healthcare which shed 1.0 per cent. Earlier the company announced it had bought its third retirement village site in Melbourne Australia.